…government says they are doing so at their own risk

zwnews.com Community Reporter

Some youths in Harare are now engaged in the dangerous act of repairing the city’s damaged roads, without the required expertise, proper tools, and at times with no reflective vests to warn motorists of their presence on those roads.

They use wheelbarrows to carry the rocks and sand they use to repair the roads with, begging the passing motorists to acknowledge their efforts by paying in cash or in kind. Amid reports by the authorities that the materials they used to repair roads are not the proper ones.

Those who spoke to zwnews.com said they are doing so because they cannot find jobs, so they have seen it better to repair the roads for a dollar. One such youth is George Maripati in Highlands, who bragged that he was earning a living from the act.

“Sometimes the motorists in this area especially the whites give me bricks of cigarettes for repairing this road. At one point a white lady gave me five frozen chickens as a token of appreciation. I sold two, and took the remainder home,” he boasted.

Asked on the dangers of working without protective clothing like vests that may see him being accidentally knocked by a car, he said he banks on sheer luck, as he has no other option, adding that no job is without its dangers anyway.

“It is a fifty-fifty chance of getting run over by cars; because we do not have triangles to warn traffic of the road repairs ahead, but every job has its dangers so what is important for me is getting something out of my sweat.

Another youth, Simon Mukweva, who was repairing some section of Chiremba Road in Msasa Park, said the work is stressful, as at times one can go home without even a dollar.

“Motorists pay voluntarily, so sometimes you count yourself lucky to be given even 50c, and it’s not a bed of roses things are hard you can toil the whole day for nothing, with hunger biting too.

“Because we have no choice we are forced to come again the next day hoping for the better,” he said.

Mukweva too admitted that they are involved in a dangerous territory, saying sometimes drivers speed dangerously past them, ignoring the card box they usually put as a warning for road works ahead. He pointed to one such card box which was written ‘voluntary roadworks ahead. Please help in cash or kind.’

Meanwhile, the government has slammed these youths saying they are illegal, endangering themselves, and that should they be involved in accidents it is not responsible.

Deputy Minister of Transport Hon Engineer Michael Madanha said these guys are putting the wrong soil on the roads, illegally raise funds from motorists, and not on any road authority’s pay sheet.

“If there were to be an accident between the volunteer roads repairers who is doing that illegally and the person who will be driving their own vehicles, we are not responsible,” he told parliament last week.

He was responding to Hon Goodluck Kwaramba’s question who had said these youths were working without danger warning signs to alert motorists of their presence on the roads, and wanted to know government position, since it was dangerous to their welfare.